EBR Metro Council Approves Ordinance Promoting Fair Chance Hiring Practices
BATON ROUGE, La. – In a victory for advocates of criminal justice reform, the East Baton Rouge Parish Metro Council voted 7-5 on Wednesday to pass a groundbreaking ordinance requiring employers receiving funds from the Parish to adopt “fair chance” hiring practices. The policy, an expansion of a 2016 ordinance focused on opening job opportunities to formerly incarcerated individuals, will now encompass public contractors as well.
Under the newly approved ordinance, employers in East Baton Rouge Parish will be obligated to assess job applicants based on their qualifications and merits, without any consideration of prior convictions. The inclusion of a “prior conviction box” on application forms will be prohibited, and background checks will only be conducted once a conditional job offer has been extended.
The measure, spearheaded by Councilwoman Chauna Banks and supported by the Baton Rouge Fair Chance Coalition, aims to eliminate the persistent barriers faced by the reentry population.
Lynda Turner, a member of the Baton Rouge Fair Chance Coalition and a formerly incarcerated individual, expressed her belief that a previous conviction should not define an individual’s future prospects.
“This ordinance means more Baton Rouge residents will get a fair chance to rebuild their lives and support their families,” she said. Turner also stressed the importance of combatting the stigma associated with criminal records and establishing robust rehabilitation systems within the community.
Kaitlyn Joshua, a community organizer for the Power Coalition and a member of the Baton Rouge Fair Chance Coalition, hailed the passage of the ordinance as a testament to the resilience and determination of ordinary citizens.
“Today’s victory shows the strength our coalition has built over the past year and what is possible when ordinary citizens speak directly to their elected representatives about the issues that impact their lives,” Joshua remarked.
In addition to expanding fair chance hiring practices to public contractors, the ordinance introduces a procurement process aimed at promoting transparency in best hiring practices. While the measure does not impose specific hiring decisions, it encourages employers to give fair consideration to applicants whose prior convictions are irrelevant to the job requirements or skills.
The impetus to implement fair chance hiring originated from community feedback collected by Step Up Louisiana, a partner of the Baton Rouge Fair Chance Coalition, which sought to identify the most pressing policy changes desired by Baton Rouge residents. Research has demonstrated that fair chance hiring not only improves public safety by offering economic opportunities and reducing recidivism rates but also benefits the local economy by bolstering the labor force and fostering loyal employees, particularly within small businesses.
The successful passage of this ordinance can be attributed to the tireless efforts of numerous organizations comprising the Baton Rouge Fair Chance Coalition. The Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, Step Up Louisiana, Voice of the Experienced, Louisiana Progress, Justice and Accountability Center, East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition, Local Liuna 99 union, Moms Demand Action, Capital Area ReEntry Coalition, and LORI all played instrumental roles in championing the cause.
With the adoption of this groundbreaking “fair chance” hiring ordinance, East Baton Rouge Parish takes a significant stride towards fostering inclusivity and providing renewed opportunities for individuals seeking reintegration into society. By challenging the status quo and recognizing the potential for growth and rehabilitation in all individuals, Baton Rouge sets a progressive example for other communities grappling with the issue of fair employment practices.
The victory of this ordinance is attributed to the tremendous campaign led by multiple organizations within the Baton Rouge Fair Chance Coalition. The combined efforts of the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice, Step Up Louisiana, Voice of the Experienced, Louisiana Progress, Justice and Accountability Center, East Baton Rouge Parish Prison Reform Coalition, Local Liuna 99 union, Moms Demand Action, Capital Area ReEntry Coalition, and LORI played a pivotal role in achieving this milestone.
With the passage of the “Fair Chance hiring ordinance, East Baton Rouge Parish sets an example of progressive legislation that fosters inclusivity and offers renewed hope to individuals seeking to reintegrate into society.
Photo courtesy of Power Coalition.